Robin Muchetu Bulawayo Bureau
THE Global Fund has extended a US$500 million grant to Zimbabwe for the next round of funding towards fighting HIV, tuberculosis and malaria, with US$25 million expected to be channelled towards the country’s preparedness to fight coronavirus.
Briefing the media on arrival from Geneva, Switzerland, yesterday afternoon, Global Fund executive director Mr Peter Sands said they were finalising the grant and would complete all modalities in the next few days.
“The Global Fund has a long-standing effective partnership with Zimbabwe, which has seen the grant increasing from US$477 million currently to US$500 for the next three years. We are in the process where the specific programme submissions are being made around how the US$500 million is going to be invested,” he said.
Mr Sands said he was glad to be in the country during this important time.
“It is a very timely moment for me to be here because essentially the decisions are being made now about how to commit this significant amount of money.
“I am also conscious that Zimbabwe is one of the top 10 countries that Global Fund funds in the world and I think I am the first executive director of the Global Fund to ever visit Zimbabwe and the first to visit Bulawayo and I am delighted to do this,” he said.
Mr Sands said what they had seen in Zimbabwe was very significant progress in fighting TB, HIV and malaria.
“Zimbabwe is one for the very few countries on the continent that have succeeded in getting to 95 percent of HIV positive people on Antiretroviral treatment. That is a significant achievement.”
Zimbabwe’s success rate of TB treatment stands at 88 percent and it compares very favourably with some of the most advanced health care systems in the world.
“If you look at the story of malaria, we have seen an 84 percent reduction of malaria incidence and a 75 percent reduction in malaria deaths. These are achievements that partners, the Global Fund and the Government of Zimbabwe should be proud of. These are achievements that are making an enormous difference in the lives of Zimbabweans,” emphasised Mr Sands.
He, however, said the battle was not won yet.
“Malaria and TB are formidable adversaries if you are not winning against them, you are losing because they fight back. There are still too many new infections of HIV, there are still too many cases of drug resistant TB, people are still dying from it yet there are much smaller numbers of people dying from malaria.
“So, the focus in the next three-year cycle of our partnership will be very much on reducing the incidences of news cases of HIV and trying to effectively eliminate malaria — that is the ambition. We will also focus on the drug resistant strains of TB,” he said.
Mr Sands is set to visit Global Find Projects in Umguza and Nyamandlovu in Matabeleland North province on today (Thursday) to have an appreciation of the actual work that is being done.
“It is really important for us back in Geneva not to be just reading power point presentations and slides where people describe things but to have a feel of things on the ground.”
In October 2019 the Global Fund raised a fund that would enable them to finance the next round for the next three years of programming and raised a record sum of US$14 billion at the replenishment conference.
Mr Sands said Zimbabwe had also played two roles — an advocacy role to persuade donors to pledge funds and also pledged US$1 million itself.
Mr Sands said it was indicative of Zimbabwe’s commitment to the people and also to be a contributor to the Global Fund and not only a recipient.